Bobby Joe Niglio

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  • January 11, 2024
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The year was 1980. The North Schuylkill Spartans had taken a 7-6 lead over the Red Tornadoes with under a minute to go. It would be the first win by an Ashland/North Schuylkill team over MCA since 1950. North Schuylkill assistant coach Frank Niglio begged Spartan head coach Barry Hackenberg to squib the kick-off or at least kick it away from his brother, Bobby Joe. The Spartans kicked to Niglio, who took the ball on the 19. He made a couple of moves and ended up streaking down the sideline in front of the N.S. bench on his way to an 81 yard kick-off return for a touchdown. A 2 point conversion pass from Tom Bergal to Ron Zaleski put the score at 14-7 and another MCA win. That would be one of many exciting plays that B.J. would make during his career as an MCA running back. He would be named to most area all star teams following the ‘80 season and would be elected to participate in the Pennsylvania Big 33 game in the summer of 1981. He accepted a football scholarship to Temple University in the fall of ‘81.

Niglio would emerge as a star during his sophomore year in the “Mud Bowl” game against Minersville, where he would carry 31 times for 208 yards in helping the Big Red to a 22-14 victory over the Miners. He would produce 12 – 100 yard games on his way to 2,587 yards – second only to Gary Diminick at the time. He became only the second back in school history to run for over 1000 yards in 2 consecutive seasons. His 4.097 all purpose yards list him as one of seven players to reach 4000 in MCA history. He still ranks in the top ten in career TD, career scoring, and career rushing. His team also posted a 28-7 record during his tenure.

Niglio also starred on the track where he was a four-year state qualifier for coach Diminick’s track team. He became the first area runner to break 11 seconds in the 100 meter run when he posted a 10.91 time in the Schuylkill League Meet in 1981. He qualified for the state meet in the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 meter relay.

Niglio also excelled on the basketball court for the Red Tornadoes and played on the 1979-80 team that went 27-8 and still has the most wins in Tornado history. That team would end up as Schuylkill League runners-up, as well as District IV runners-up. Bobby Joe will join his brother Frank as an inductee into the Ed Romance Chapter and certainly remains a measuring stick for all running backs who come through the Tornado system. Niglio and his wife Trish live in Elysburg with their daughter Nina.

Categories: 2006 Hall of Fame